An Interview With Chenai

Last week we caught up Chenai ahead of her mega release with Toolroom records head honcho, Mark Knight.

We spoke about her music, what she has been up to in lockdown, what she would do with 50 million pounds plus so much more.

Go check out her new release with Mark Knight

Hi Chenai, how are you?

Really well, thanks! Very well rested. Ha.

What have you been up to over the lockdown?

When we first went into lockdown I felt this anxiety to stay active, working out very hard every day, face-timing everyone, physically trying to stay busy, because pre-lockdown being ’busy’  was in fashion, and then there was a slow decline into a really daydreamy, isolated, creative space, I learned to paint, and got a daily meditation and journal habit, now I absolutely love lockdown. I have faith that industry will pick up again.

You have a new single with Mark Knight. How did the link up take place between yourself and Mark?

We were introduced through a publisher I work with, I was at a Toolroom writing camp, Mark had this tune, I’d worked on a couple of tracks that day and was about to head home then he played me this tune. I jammed some ideas, and Tonight happened.

Did you work in the studio together or work remotely?

We worked together in the studio. With house music, there’s something about being in a room with people, exchanging energy, bouncing ideas and inspiring each other in real time. 

Any other exciting projects you can tell us about for this year?

Argh. There are some things I’d like to scream about, but can’t just yet. I just released my solo debut ‘If you love me’ My next single ’Water’ is out in August, and the EP ‘Sanctum of Gemini’ later in the year. Hurts are also releasing an album I wrote on, called “Faith“, can’t wait for people to hear that. 

Who was the first artist you worked alongside and how did you get in contact with each other?

The very first artist I wrote for, other than myself, was an artist called RZLZ in Amsterdam. I like things that happen organically. We share a producer, her label at the time really liked the stuff he & I were doing and asked me to write with her. We really connected. 

Do you produce your own tracks too or do you like to work with other producers?

Yeah, both! If You Love Me was self-produced, on my solo stuff I like to work alone or with another producer/engineer who’s in exactly the same headspace to bounce ideas and flow with. You usually have ‘your person’. That familiarity and comfortability is important to me. The producers I work with get me. The initial idea of the song is usually intimate, so I can feel free to explore, get weird, and get clarity. Kevin from Tame Impala writes, produces, plays and performs everything on his records, the result is this epic body of work that takes you on this mad sonic journey of his mind. Same with Amber Mark’s 3.33. It’s a different feel, a musical journey. I’m hoping to get there one day!

What is your goal for the next 5 years?

Shit, I’m just tryna get through the 2020. Haha! 

I see myself making things, music, clothes, art, growing veg or whatever, with people I love from home, which will be somewhere hot, by water, with interiors by an authentic Moroccan designer. I’d have released a couple of albums, and penned a few hits for other sick artists. Oh and having worked with James Blake. Thankyouplease.

How do you get prepared for a live performance?

It’s mad, because there was a time when it was a shot of tequila and go, but I grew up, said “you’re not Ozzy Osbourne” and now take it all pretty seriously, I meditate, vocal warm-up and listen to some chilled music.

How do you get prepared for a studio session?

It’s pretty much the same as a live gig. I wanna try and get present. It sounds woo-woo, but I like to tune into how my body feels that day, we change daily, our voice’s are different every day and if it’s a writing day, I wanna tune in to what it is the Ether wants me to channel that day.

What’s your favourite food?

Hand’s down, my Grandma’s Sadza and Peanut Butter Greens, it’s a traditional Zimbabwean dish. I’ve been fully vegan for 3 years, and for health reasons recently added ethically sourced fish back into my diet, so until the guilt gets me, I’m really enjoying Japanese Black Cod again. 

If you won 50 million pounds in the lottery, what is the first 5 things you are buy…

A cage to keep Trump in. 

Clean water and food for those in need of them.

My Mumma a house.

An island to begin a sustainable community for people who care about the environment and want to escape the trappings of capitalism. 

By then, I’d be skint, but have somewhere beautiful to create & live.

July 17, 2020